There are times when receiving a definitive diagnosis for debilitating symptoms is actually a relief. Suddenly, the condition has a name, and there’s a way to treat it! This is definitely true when it comes to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). If your senior loved one has been struggling with such symptoms as chronic coughing, wheezing, and fatigue, a diagnosis of COPD just might be the first step needed to improve her quality of life.
Here’s what you can expect from the senior’s physician when diagnosing COPD:
- Assessment of the senior’s health and environment, to include smoking, exposure to pollutants, symptoms, and family health history
- Testing such as spirometry (breathing into a machine to check lung functioning), x-rays and blood work
- Creation of a treatment plan
Since the symptoms of COPD can differ widely from person to person, treatment plans are also not always the same. Here are some of the methods your senior loved one’s doctor may try to implement to help her best manage the disease:
- Medications, to include any of the following:
- Bronchodilators taken through an inhaler to help open airways, available in both short-term and long-term formulations, to work immediately as needed or to be taken ongoing for maintenance
- Steroids and corticosteroids work to reduce inflammation, swelling and mucous production
- Antibiotics to address any bacterial infections in the lungs
- Immunizations to protect against flu and pneumonia, as those with COPD are at a greater risk for complications from these illnesses
- Pulmonary therapy works to strengthen the lungs through guided exercise and nutrition.
- Oxygen therapy, available through liquid or gas oxygen tanks or oxygen concentrators that utilize the oxygen already in the environment.
- Lung surgery may be an option if symptoms are extremely severe.
- Palliative care focuses treatment on improving quality of life, and is available to anyone diagnosed with COPD, regardless of the prognosis or stage of the disease.
- Clinical trials help researchers determine the success of new, experimental treatments, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Talk with your senior loved one’s physician to see if clinical trials are an option, and check the American Lung Association’s clinical trial search page for opportunities near you.
Regardless of the doctor’s recommended treatment plan to help improve life for your senior loved one with COPD, Visiting Angels’ California home care services team can help improve quality of life and ease COPD symptoms with supplemental in-home care. Whether the senior needs respectful assistance in performing personal care tasks such as bathing and getting dressed, help with light housework and meals, transportation, or just the kindness of a caring companion to talk to and engage in enjoyable activities together, our fully trained and experienced caregivers are here for you. Contact us in Sunnyvale at (408) 735-0977 or in Fremont at 510-284-0000 or fill out our online contact form to learn more.